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How Paleo is “Paleo”?

August 1, 2013

Did our hunter-gatherer ancestors really eat a “Paleo” diet?



Is the “Paleo” diet truly Paleo? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The "Paleo" diet emphasizes meat, seafood, fruits, vegetables and nuts. (Jupiter Images)

The so-called Paleolithic or “Paleo” diet has received a lot of hype in the past few years. Proponents claim that we’re evolutionarily adapted to eat diets rich in meat, seafood, fruits, and vegetables, and should avoid modern agricultural products like grains and dairy. UC Berkeley anthropologist Katharine Milton says our hunter-gatherer ancestors actually ate a highly variable diet, depending on their culture and where they lived.

KATHARINE MILTON (University of California, Berkeley):

Every human population uses the materials in the envionment and they work out some sort of viable diet. It has to have all of the nutrients that you require in the proper proportions. And there are literally thousands of combinations of plant and animal foods that can have this effect.


What’s more, there’s evidence that our early ancestors did eat some grains, and probably didn’t have access to large amounts of meat. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.